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Pleural disease diagnostics represent a sprawling topic that has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years from humble beginnings. Whilst pleural patients are heterogeneous as a population and in the aetiology of the disease with which they present, we provide an overview of the typical diagnostic approach. Pleural fluid analysis is the cornerstone of the diagnostic pathway; however, it has many shortcomings. Strong cases have been made for more invasive upfront investigations, including image-guided biopsies or local anaesthetic thoracoscopy, in selected populations. Imaging can guide the diagnostic process as well as act as a vehicle to facilitate therapies, and this is never truer than with the recent advances in thoracic ultrasound.

Original publication




Journal article


Diagnostics (Basel, Switzerland)

Publication Date





Oxford Centre for Respiratory Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 7LE, UK.